For years, Turkish Cypriots who fought, served and died for Britain have been ignored in the annual Remembrance Day services, but not anymore.
Last year, after extensive campaigning by T-VINE Magazine, this small nation finally participated in remembrance services to commemorate the contribution of Turkish Cypriots to Britain during times of conflict. Wreaths were laid in their honour at two separate ceremonies, one in Kyrenia, in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, and the other in Wood Green, North London.
Twelve months on, and after further efforts by T-VINE, the number of Remembrance Day services where Turkish Cypriots will formally participate has doubled to four, with Chingford, in East London and Sidcup, in Southeast London, joining Kyrenia and Wood Green.
The additional locations have come about through the support of two Conservative councillors of Turkish Cypriot origin, Cllr Ahmet Dourmoush and Cllr Kay Isa, who helped secure local permission for dedications from Turkish Cypriots from Bexley and Waltham Forest Councils respectively.
Waltham Forest Council, which has a poor reputation among British Turks for discrimination and anti-Turkish bias, felt the need to include in its email confirming Turkish Cypriot participation a line about its policy of ‘not permitting flags from countries not recognised by the UK’. It is not clear if other communities would have received this instruction or whether, yet again, Turkish Cypriots were singled out.
There was no such problem with Bexley. Cllr Dourmoush will lead the dedication to Turkish Cypriots by laying a wreath at the Sidcup War Memorial on Remembrance Sunday, on 13 November.
In East London, Cllr Isa has secured permission for local resident Berna Sermet to lay a wreath in tribute to her uncle, Cemal Mustafa, who died serving Britain during World War II.
Cemal Mustafa’s heart-breaking story, ‘The Soldier Who Never Died’, was told for the first time last year in T-VINE after Berna’s father, Sermet Mustafa, opened up about the tragic death of his adored older brother.
Kyrenia Remembrance Service
After learning of his loss, the Kyrenia Branch of the Royal British Legion extended an invitation to Mr Mustafa to lay a wreath in honour of his late brother at The Old British Cemetery, in North. This year the octogenarian passes the baton to his younger daughter to pay tribute in London.
Also attending the Kyrenia Remembrance Sunday service in 2021 was the TRNC President, Ersin Tatar, and Hakkı Müftüzade (pictured top), the son of Ömer Faik Müftüzade, who was the only Cypriot to head the Cyprus Regiment and who risked his life to save British troops during the 1974 War in Cyprus. Both the men are expected to attend this year’s service in North Cyprus.
Wreaths will also be laid at the Kyrenia Memorial by Hulus Özberkman, on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot police officers who gave their lives to Britain during the Cyprus Emergency, and Kutlay Keço, who is head of the Turkish Cypriot Veterans Association.
Wood Green Remembrance Service
In Britain, the Council of Turkish Cypriot Associations – the largest umbrella body for British Turkish Cypriots – will be lead the community’s commemorations at the Wood Green service.
Last year, the then CTCA President, Ayşe Osman was among those to make history as the first set of people to honour Turkish Cypriot military and civilian servicemen and women at a Remembrance Sunday service by laying a wreath at the Wood Green War Memorial. She was joined by Turkish Cypriot Muslim cleric Hussain Hashim Hoca and Erim Metto, head of the Turkish Cypriot Community Association.
The participation of Turkish Cypriots was made possible with the support of Haringey Council’s Labour Leader, Cllr Peray Ahmet, and the then Mayor, Cllr Adam Jogee and their staff, who have actively sought to involve diverse communities and faith groups from the borough in acts of remembrance.
Making this year’s Wood Green service more poignant will be the presence of Sapper Patrick Cengiz Azimkar’s parents, Geraldine and Mehmet. The family once lived in Haringey, and so they return to the borough this year to pay tribute to their son, Sapper Azimkar, of the Royal Engineers, who was killed by the IRA while on duty in Northern Ireland in 2009.
Turkish Cypriots in World War II
Research suggests that up to 200 Greek and Turkish Cypriots died for freedom, and their graves are strewn across Europe, from Poland to Italy and Egypt. Among the fallen is İzzet Derviş, the father of former TRNC President Derviş Eroğlu, who is buried in Krakow Rakowicki Military Cemetery.
Up to 5,000 Turkish Cypriots are believed to have enlisted in the Cyprus Regiment, in addition to the many women who joined the Women’s Royal Army Corps, or became nurses.
On a brief visit to Cyprus in 1943, Winston Churchill praised the “soldiers of the Cyprus Regiment who have served honourably on many fields from Libya to Dunkirk.”
Remembrance Sunday 2022 services for Turkish Cypriots
This year’s Remembrance Day services will take place on the morning of Sunday, 13 November.
These events, which take place not just in the UK but all around the world, are organised by the Royal British Legion, a charity which provides financial, social and emotional support to members and veterans of the British Armed Forces, their families and dependants.
In the UK, the RBL works closely with local authorities to arrange hundreds of Remembrance Sunday events across the country. These are all open to the public to attend.
Many start with a parade, which usually commence from around 10am-10.15am. There is usually a short service in a nearby church too.
The starting point for the parade will be a short distance from the final gathering point, usually a war memorial where the two minute silence will be held at 11am and where wreaths will be laid.
The locations of the four Remembrance Sunday ceremonies where Turkish Cypriots will be formally participate, are as follows:
10.45am: Chingford War Memorial, 1A The Ridgeway, Chingford, London E4 6QN
10.45am: Sidcup War Memorial, The Green, Sidcup, Bexley, Greater London DA14 6BS
10.45am: Wood Green War Memorial Wall, 242 High Rd, London N22 8JX
12.45am Cyprus time, 10.45am UK time: The Old British Cemetery, Bedrettin Demirel Caddesi, Girne 99300, Turkish Republic of North Cyprus
Main image, top, of Hakkı Müftüzade laying a wreath dedicated to his late father, Lt/Col. Ömer Faik Müftüzade, Commanding Officer of the Cyprus Regiment, at the Remembrance Sunday service at The Old British Cemetery, Kyrenia, 14 Nov. 2021. Photo © Ertuğrul Çavuşoğlu